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    77 bodies found in Balkh in less than a year

    MAZAR-I-SHARIF (PAN): Seventy-seven dead bodies, found in various parts of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of northern Balkh province, were buried over the past 11 months, officials said on Tuesday.

    Hunger, cold weather, poverty, personal enmities and the use of drugs were the main reasons behind the deaths, municipality officer Zai-ul-Haq Attai told Pajhwok Afghan News.   

    Elderly people, women and child beggars were among the dead, he said, adding the bodies were brought to the Mazar-i-Sharif Civil Hospital, where they were kept for some time.

    Most of the beggars live around the Shrine of Hazrat Ali (RA) in the city. Mah Gul, 15, and her 25-year old husband are living in a small, dingy hole.

    “This is not a grave. It is a place dug by us due to helplessness, as we have no shelter in rain and snow fall,” said Gul, who married at the age of 12 but has not yet seen her own house.

    Ghulam Rasul, 50, another beggar who has spent 20 years around living the shrine, said: “I have seen so many homeless people dying here,” he said, urging the government to provide them shelter.  

    But Director of Refugee Affairs Abdul Sabur Qadari said they could arrange shelters for those registered with the department. They were unable to help all down-and-out individuals, he added.

    The Department of Public Works and Social Affairs has put up 300 needy people in a warehouse in the city, said Rakai Ahmadi, an official.  They had also provided warm clothing to several people, Ahmadi added.